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Sarah Climaco

The Michigan Legislature has decided to pass on Tuesday, June 5th’s midnight deadline to act on a voter initiative to legalize adult-use cannabis, the Detroit Free Press reports. Senate Republicans had wanted to take up and pass the measure before it was put on November’s ballot in order to immediately amend the language of the initiative but were unable due to insufficient support in the House of Representatives.

The initiative will now appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot, to be decided by voters.

Michigan Republicans had sufficient state Senate support to act but were short of the 55 votes needed to pass in the House.

“There’s simply not support in the chamber to pass this right now. The voters are going to have to decide. We’re nowhere in the ballpark.” — Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, via Detroit Free Press

Lawmakers had three options to deal with the initiative: pass the proposal to amend it later, come up with their own competing proposal for the ballot, or do nothing and let the measure go to the general election ballot to be decided by voters. They opted to do nothing. If the measure is approved by voters in November, it will take a three-quarters super-majority vote in the legislature to amend the proposal. Modifying the proposal with just a simple majority would have only been possible if the legislature had acted by Tuesday’s deadline.

Republicans in the state Senate wanted to keep the proposal off the ballot because it’s expected to drive more voters to the polls. Higher turnout has historically helped Democrats, which may jeopardize the Republican majority that exists across the legislature, governor’s office, and in the federal Congress.

Josh Hovey, a spokesperson for The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, was satisfied with the outcome.

“We are confident Michigan voters understand that marijuana prohibition has been an absolute disaster and that they will agree that taxing and regulating marijuana is a far better solution. Multiple polls show that roughly 60 percent of Michigan voters want to see marijuana legalized and regulated.” — Josh Hovey via Detroit Free Press

The ballot proposal, as it stands now, would:

  • Legalize the possession and sale of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for personal recreational use for people over 21, with up to 10 ounces stored in the home.
  • Allow communities to decide whether they’ll allow cannabis businesses in their towns
  • Tax cannabis sales with a 10 percent excise tax at retail as well as 6 percent sales tax.
  • Tax revenues would be divided, with 35 percent going to K-12 education, 35 percent to roads, and 15 percent each to both the counties and communities where cannabis businesses operate.
  • Require testing and safe transportation of cannabis

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